Monday, May 31, 2010

An Endangered Language: Braille

In the 1950s, half of blind of Americans read Braille. Now, fewer than ten per cent know the language, most relying on audio materials. Not a big deal?

...There was a really interesting study of two groups of blind children. One group had grown up learning Braille and the other group had grown up using audio technology. And the authors of that study said that there was a significant difference in not just the way that they wrote but the way that they seemed to think. And they referenced theorist Walter Ong, who writes that the act of seeing our own words and then tweaking them and rewriting them, and in that process, rethinking, really creates a new kind of cognitive style.

So they said that the students who didn't learn Braille, it was as if they had shaken up their ideas in a container and then thrown them out on a piece of paper, and that there was really no clear organization, and it lacked the kind of complexity that they saw in the students who had learned Braille.

People who don't know Braille can't really take notes, can't edit your own writing, and you can't edit your own thoughts, and that’s a really significant part of the way that people learn to think.

That's true of visual readers and non-readers too, though, isn't it?


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